"Sudden death and bloodshed appealed to me."

David berkowitz is a rarity when it comes to serial killers, in that he had a relatively happy, normal childhood. Maybe this makes him seem even more frightening, since the warning signs of what was to come, if any, were deceptively subtle.

Born June first, 1953 as Richard David Falco, he was adopted at birth by Nat and Pearl Berkowitz, a childless couple who lavished love, attention, and devotion on their son. Renamed David Berkowitz, the pudgy little boy became very close with his adoptive mother and enjoyed playing baseball in his free time, the only sport he was really good at. His only idiosyncrasies were his introvertedness, his tendency to bully neighborhood children, (exacerbated by being big for his age,) and hyperactivity. Still, nothing seemed 'wrong' with David-just normal childhood growing pains.

In the years spanning 1965 to 1967, David's formerly happy, stable family life crumbled. Pearl, who had survived breast cancer before David was adopted, was stricken again in 1965. David, then twelve and at the onset of adolescence, had never learned of his mother's previous illness. He was understandably devestated and hurt, and his pain was made worse by his mother's death in 1967. The incident was the stepping stone for his foray into madness.

In 1971, Nat Berkowitz and his second wife moved to Florida, leaving eighteen-year old David to fend for himself. Still grieving over his mother's death and feeling abandoned by his father, he joined the Army. Ironically, he was an excellent and natural marksman, and stayed in the service for three years before starting a job as a security guard in New York.

Later that year David, after a long search, located his birth mother. He slipped a Mother's Day card into her mailbox, initialing it 'R.D.F'. Soon after he began visiting his mother and half-sister, but the warm welcome he'd anticipated was not to be. Berkowitz felt rejected by not only his adopted family, but now his biological family as well.

Berkowitz, well on his way to becoming a murderer, was also an accomplshed arsonist at the time. In a notebook he recorded nearly fifteen hundred fires he'd set, and would often return to the scene to watch the firefighters work. He would stand in an out of the way place and masturbate. The fires orovided the excitement that would soon be replaced by killing. During Christmastime of 1975, David began to hear 'demons' talking to him. The voices of the 'demons', whether confined within in his mind or not, were incessant. He became more and more delusional and paranoid, and it was around this time that he began scrawling nonsensical rantings on the walls of his squalid apartment. It was also during the holiday season of 1975 that Berkowitz attempted murder for the first time, stabbing a woman on the street. "I wasn't going to rob her, or touch her, or rape her. I just wanted to kill her," he would later say. The woman, though injured, escaped and there is no police record of the incident.

In 1976 the first of what would come to be known as the Son of Sam murders began. Inspired by a book about Jack the Ripper, in which the authorities of Whitechapel, England received a crazed letter from the Ripper, David mailed his own threats and taunts to the police and NYC newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin. He labeled himself 'Mr. Monster', '.44 Killer', 'Chubby Behemoth', and, finally, the 'Son of Sam'. You may read the letters here.

David blame the cause of his madness, and the violence is begat, on his elderly neighbor, Sam Carr. Carr, in David's increasingly twisted mind, was Satan. Sam's pet labrador, Harvey. According to Berkowitz Harvey, who had a barking habit, was a demon who gave David the orders to kill. David heard the voices everywhere, and could not escape them. He was trying to quiet the demons' voices by carrying out their orders of murder. In the end, however, the voices only grew hungrier.

To please 'Papa' (as Sam Carr was referred to in one letter), David believed he was meant to kill young, pretty women. Most of victims were brunettes or women with dark hair, causing women citywide to bleach their hair blonde. (One victim, Stacey Moskowitz, was blonde.)

For all the taunting letters, elusiveness, and terror he created, David Berkowitz was felled by nothing more than a parking ticket. On the last day of July, 1977, a couple was shot in Brooklyn. A witness saw a car speeding away, a car that had just been ticketed for a parking violation. The police traced the ticket and the vehicle back to Berkowitz, and he was arrested with a cache of weaponry in the trunk of his car. He had meant to go into a nightclub, start shooting, and set the place ablaze. When he was arrested, he said, "You got me." The arresting officers then asked who he was. Berkowitz answered, "I'm Sam."

Berkowitz was ruled competent to stand trial and legally sane, despite a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and neurosis. The case against him was flimsy, but the state of New York was able to convinct Berkowitz with help from his addled rantings and admission of guilt.

In 1979, while incarcerated at Attica prison, Berkowitz was attacked by a fellow inmate, who slit the serial killer's throat with a homemade knife. Berkowitz survived and became a born-again Christian who now refers to himself as the 'Son of Hope.'

In the book Whoever Fights Monsters, a nonfiction account of the infancy of criminal profiling and the study of serial killer behavior, written by profiler extraordinaire Robert Ressler, Berkowitz recanted the entire 'demon' story.

Ressler interviewed David Berkowitz in prison, in 1979. Ressler, a decorated FBI agent and an insightful interviewer, gleaned things from the Son of Sam's mind that no one had ever heard.

Berkowitz owned up to the fact that the story of the talking dog and his Satanic master were nothing but fantasy. He had created the tale, he told Ressler, to prove to the police that he was insane, and when caught, could avoid prosecution for the killings. The real reason David killed was not because of Sam or Harvey - it was over a deep resentment toward women, and his ineptness at building a lasting relationship with a 'good woman'.

In the end, the Son of Sam had no more ties with demons and Satan than anyone else. In true sociopathic form, he had created the tale to make the authorities believe he was insane, and further an insanity defense in court.

In July of 2002, Berkowitz went before a parole board for the first time, having served 25 years in prison. He claimed to barely remember the shootings and blamed his actions on Satanism, and said he "didn't deserve" to released. Berkowitz was denied parole. As of 2006, he has 341 years left in a 365 year sentence.